April 21, 2012

Inhumanoids, episode 5: "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 5"

It's the assault on the Russian military base again, with Tendril taking out all the defenses, D'Compose invading the barracks and turning the soldiers into zombies, and Metlar marching in with his army of statue warriors. The Inhumanoids tear through all opposition before getting their claws on a bunch of cluster missiles and retreating back into the Earth just as the sun starts to rise.

In the ruins of their HQ, Earth Corp, Sandra Shore, and the Mutores huddle around a campfire, debating their next course of action. A helicopter arrives, carrying Senator Masterson and General Krank. Earth Corps is pissed to see the Senator who cut their funding, doubly so when they realize Blathorne Shore is with them. Blackthorne is shackled and in custody, though, and Earth Corps is briefed about the missiles, Blachthorne revealing that Metlar plans to use them to destroy the Elemental Core, turning the surface of the world into a molten slag heap and filling the skies with smoke that will blot out the sun.

As a repaired and refurbish Earth Corps descends into the Earth once more with the Mutores at their side, Masterson and Krank retreat to an office to monitor the situation by radio. Explosions suddenly erupt along fault lines, causing San Francisco to fall into ruins and fire to belch into the sky. Blackthorne uses the distraction to get his hands on a gun and escape, but not before revealing he struck a deal with Metlar to rule over whatever pockets of civilization are left after the disaster. And that Earth Corps is driving into a trap.

Earth Corps finds one of the missiles, only to discover it's a dud. The reverberation from the surface explosions hit them, tearing open the ground and dropping them and the Mutores down a deep crevasse. They land in a chamber filled with crystalline stalactites. As they pass through, a rigged explosion causes the massive crystals to start raining down. Our heroes plow through, but just as they come to the end of the chamber, a sinkhole opens, dropping everyone down yet another deep hole.

At the Elemental Core, Metlar guides his forces in forming a bomb out of ten cluster missiles and the generator stolen in the previous episode. D'Compose starts to wonder how he and Tendril will survive the looming devastation of the planet's surface, but his questions are answered with little more than angry insults from Metlar.

Earth Corps and the Mutores come to in a desert, half-buried in shimmering crystal sand. They dig themselves and their vehicles out, and press on. As they near the Elemental Core chamber, they pass a massive dam. An explosive takes out the dam and a wall of hydrofluoric acid rushes their way. Our heroes race as fast as they can, barely reaching a stone bridge as the acid pours down into a crevasse. As they cross, they come under attack from D'Compose and Tendril, who start taking out the bridge from the other end. The heroes plead with D'Compose, playing on his fear that he might not survive what Metlar has in store. He tells Tendril to halt the attack.

Earth Corps and the Mutors are on stone rafts, racing down the river of lava. They once again encounter the bronze colossus, but he's quickly taken out by D'Compose and Tendril, who are now working with our heroes. Earth Corps arrives at the Elemental Core chamber and sets about dismantling the bomb. They take out one missile, then two, then three, then four and five. But the other five take off before they can be stopped.

The missiles explode against the Core, but without the other five, they only dissipate the Core's energy instead of destroying it. Metlar has been foiled, and he's pissed, sending a wave of hundreds of statue warriors pouring towards the heroes, who foxhole up. They blast away and Liquidator bathes the statues in a chemical that saps what's left of the primal energy that kept them going.

Metlar turns on D'Compose and Tendril, strangling them for their treachery, then sending them after the heroes. Earth Corps splits in two, separating the pair of beasts and leading them down different tunnels. The Redwoods attack D'Compose, once again encasing him in amber. The Granites attack Tendril, returning him to the massive prison cell from which he earlier escaped.

Metlar is completely without support now as Magnokor divides into his two halves and they once more trap Metlar in their magnetic field. Blackthorne suddenly shows up in a new suit, threatening to both harness Metlar for his own ends and neutralize the powers of Magnokor. But before he can, Herc takes him down with a sock to the jaw.

Earth Corps HQ has been rebuilt by Senator Masterson, who puts on his best politician's smile as he tries to win their good will. The boys make themselves at home and each take a pass at asking Sandra out for dinner. Sorting through things, Dr. Bright wonders what happened to that sample he took from Tendril. Out back, is slithers out of the garbage can.


I give up. I’m putting Inhumanoids on a list - along with women, trigonometry, and the success of Ryan Seacrest - of things I’ve stopped trying to figure out. Last week I was comparing this series to Carrot Top. Stop and think about that for a second. How low does something have to descend before it evokes comparisons to a prop comic? Heading into this week, I was trying to come to grips with the fact that Noel and I were going to have to live with this show for another two months. The thought sent chills, like icy spiders, crawling up and down my spine. Now imagine having to write this week’s review and tell you, dear readers, that this episode, the finale of the original mini-sode opening, is actually goodish. I’ll give you a few moments to let that sink in...

So what is it about this episode that makes it good? Or at least good by Inhumanoids standards, which means it doesn’t make you want to lobotomize yourself with a rusty hacksaw and a dirty spork. I don’t know exactly. The jokes work a little better this time around and our heroes have a bit more life to them. Still, none of the individual elements is substantially better than previous episodes. Maybe it’s the fact that everything is finally pulling together for a conclusion instead of merely setting up another cliffhanger. Serials can be fun, but they’re rarely satisfying. The result is too dramatically choppy, especially when you’re trying to tell an actual story. The previous episodes felt more and more like so much filler and the story became like taffy, stretched and pulled to within an inch of breaking. Here, everything rallies to a finish. There’s an energy to it, not to mention a sense of fulfillment when it’s over. The best way I can describe it is that the previous episodes were like running on a treadmill, and this one felt like actually running.

There's still things in this episode that had me scratching my head, not to mention slamming it against my desk. Why is there a GIANT dam underground holding back a deluge of hydrochloric acid? Why is there a trap door concealing a pool of molten amber just waiting there for some large unsuspecting Inhumanoid to fall into it? Why are our heroes so blasé about misplacing a sample of Tendril? They treat it as if the remote has gone missing. There’s just a whole lot of dumb in this series so far, which is surprising considering it’s Flint Dille we’re talking about. Dumb is okay as long as it’s fun, but Inhumanoids has rarely been fun enough to compensate. This aspect worries me as much as anything going forward.

And speaking of which, now we move on to the series in a more traditional format, and I’m really curious to see how that affects things. Will it tighten up the narrative? Allow for greater development of the characters? There’s only one way to find out. See you back here next week.


I liked this episode. I mean, I really liked this episode. I've enjoyed moments here and there throughout the last four, but I absolutely hated other bits and spent the whole time caught in the back and fourth whiplash, punctuated by additional bits that left me sitting there wondering what the hell it was that I just saw and how in the hell somebody could have been stupid enough to actually commit that to screen. I'm not saying the show as a whole has been awful, but certain stretches of it absolutely are and they've succeeded in dragging those enjoyable bits into the core of the Earth and drowning them in a sea of magma.

But not this episode. From beginning to end, I was drawn into events, I was carried from moment to moment with enthusiasm instead of dread. I laughed. I got excited. I rallied and rooted. This episode won me over as I finally bore witness to what it is this series has been struggling to be.

Let's start with the attack on the Russian base. It was the strongest sequence of the last episode, and this one opens by picking up that baton and running with it. The Inhumanoid assault is thorough, clever, and brutal, and no insertion of parachuting pilots can undo the absolute horror and devastation of this sequence as three creatures that have been largely worthless suddenly become an epic threat to contend with.

And this leads us to Metlar's ultimate plot: to return the world to the molten heap he once called home. Ever since the surface cooled and the skies cleared and the icy remains of meteors and comets became oceans and life bloomed on the surface, he's been pushed further and further away from the land over which he once ruled. Earth is a planet, yes. A vibrant, bustling planet. But it's not his planet, not any more, and he's ready to rip out of the shack he's been condemned to and sweep those damn kids off his damn lawn. He suddenly makes sense to me and his threat is genuine. He doesn't want to destroy the world, just return it to the way it was. Yeah, using cluster missiles on an Elemental Core is a bit silly, but I'll forgive it because the motive and the consequences are there.

More importantly, D'Compose finally takes as stand as he realizes making the surface inhospitable to all life, including the decomposed undead variety, means an end to him and his dimwitted plant companion, Tendril. It's only now dawning on him that the master he serves does not have his best interests in mind, so he flips sides and takes Tendril with him. I almost wish they could have played this out more, but they make up for it in the magnificent moment where Metlar discovers the betrayal and turns on them, flames belching from his snarling mouth, then throws them both against a wall, his hands around their throats. Metlar is the dude you betray behind his back, but they don't dare cross him to his face.

I'm also struck by the entire underworld journey sequence as our heroes race to the heart of the earth. Yeah, half that time is spent watching them fall down holes, but I love the rich variety of their encounters and how much stronger the plotting feels than on their previous journeys. They find a bomb, but it's a fake and they fall into a trap. They enter the crystal chamber, which is also a trap, then fall into the crystal desert, which is just beautiful to look at, and I love seeing the team - both humans and Mutores - pulling together. And then we get to the dam. Yes, Tony, the dam. Because there is a civilization down here, that built these bridges and other structures, and it makes sense that they would block off something so dangerous to them as a lake of acid. But I wonder if there was a bit of censoring here, because I could swear I saw some Granites and Redwoods just starting to be caught by the acid before the shorts cut away. Shame they trimmed it as that could have added some dramatic weight to things. And then there's the bridge and D'Compose's turn, which is wonderful.

And then our heroes reach the bomb and I love the sequence of them taking out one missile after another, but it's too late! But no, they took out just enough to avert a disaster. The core, however, turns cold instead of hot, and I'm hoping this is a thread they pick up on in the series, because that sounds like it would be a very bad thing to have happen. And then comes the wave of statue warriors. This is where the show let me down a bit, that our heroes were taking a last stand against this massive onslaught of opposition... and they win by Liquidator handily hosing things down with a chemical composition that just so happens to neutralize and element he's never sampled and analyzed before? Now that's stupid. But it's done quick because D'Compose and Tendril are back on their tail, divided, and once again imprisoned by the Mutores. I'll give you the vat of amber, Tony. Amber is caused by tree sap and would have made more sense had the Redwood simply swarmed over D'Compose and secreted upon him. But I love that the tentacled Tendril is once again confined in his Lovecraftian cell.

And then the climax, where I still hate Metlar's design but finally appreciate him as a villain. Magnokor calmly walks up to this force, divides, and dedicates himselves to yet another long stretch of holding his foe captive. And Blackthorne shows up. I figured this is where things will take a turn and set up the plot thread for the next episode, but no, they didn't know they were going to get a series beyond these serialized segments, so they actually let things come to an end as Herc takes Blackthorne out. All the villains are accounted for, the heroes return home for some much needed R&R. The day is saved.

Except for that one piece of Tendril. And I actually found that to be a funny bit, that the Senator brought his people in to fix this place as a courtesy, and they were the ones who tossed out stuff they didn't understand. Where this leads, I aim to follow.

As you can tell, I really was swept away by this episode, sailing from sequence to sequence like the turns and dips of a well designed roller coaster. The flow of the story isn't stupid. The characters, though still underdeveloped, aren't stupid. The world building isn't stupid. The use of the vehicles and suits isn't stupid. This show isn't stupid. Not anymore. Early on, one got the sense that Dille and his crew didn't have a clue what they were doing. Maybe they were rushed. Maybe they had a concept they couldn't figure out in time. Maybe they were given something they didn't like. Here, they finally get it. They finally know what they want their show to be and pull all the stray threads - no matter how poorly they've been introduced in earlier episodes - together into a tightly knit web and structure it as a thrilling race to avert a genuine threat.

This show finally won me over.

Two things, though:
  • General Krank? Really? I mean, really?
  • Whatever happened to the army of zombified Russian soldiers? Were they blasted away by Earth Corps during the climax? Are they still standing around waiting for D'Compose to give them orders? Have they been cured and left wandering around the deep caverns, calling out for their comrades? Where are these guys!

Tune in next Saturday as we dive into another Inhumanoids adventure with "Cypheroid".

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